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Have you ever decked?
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Poll: Have you ever decked?
Yes 61 / 40%
No 53 / 35%
Came close 26 / 17%
Pancakes 12 / 8%
152 total votes
 

milesenoell


Apr 8, 2011, 5:23 PM
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Have you ever decked?
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So, I recently decked and spent a while thinking "oh my god I could have just died" which is certainly true, but now I'm hoping to get some perspective. How many of you folks out there have decked for one reason or another, and what was that reason? How bad was it?


gblauer
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Apr 8, 2011, 5:30 PM
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Re: [milesenoell] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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Sorry to hear...care to explain your circumstances?

I decked when my climbing partner failed to gain control of the rope shen she was lowering me at the top of a climb. I went zipping through her ATC and I broke my back.

It screwed with my head for an entire climbing season.


milesenoell


Apr 8, 2011, 5:42 PM
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Re: [gblauer] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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I'll probably post up the details of the incident soon, but suffice it to say I screwed up, hit the ground, and I'm still kind of processing the whole thing. I like to think of myself as a safe climber, but now I'm re-examining all those questions about how well I've done at calculating the risks involved.

That's what led me to questioning how many of us get second chances. How many of us have had the system break down and gotten a chance to learn from it?


gblauer
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Apr 8, 2011, 5:45 PM
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Re: [milesenoell] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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There are plenty of RC.com members who have had terrible accidents and recovered and are climbing harder than ever.

I hope they speak up and help you through this difficult time.


milesenoell


Apr 8, 2011, 5:56 PM
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Re: [gblauer] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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gblauer wrote:
There are plenty of RC.com members who have had terrible accidents and recovered and are climbing harder than ever.

I hope they speak up and help you through this difficult time.

While I appreciate the support, I don't mean to make it sound like I'm in a bad place. I got damn lucky and will heal up and be back climbing in the not too distant future. Frankly, after the distance I fell I am a very happy man be in as good of shape as I am. Mostly I was just hoping to get a reality check about how many people have had similar experiences.

For what it's worth, I fell about 25 feet and broke a bone or two in one of my feet. The big thing for me was having a complete failure of my safety system.


sonso45


Apr 8, 2011, 6:04 PM
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Re: [milesenoell] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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I was doing some popular route in Thailand, an 11 something. My belayer had way too much confidence in my abilities and was chatting. I had moved up and down and when I fell he thought I was pulling slack to clip. I had time to yell a few choice words and my other good friend jumped up and grabbed the rope. I twisted face out as I fell on the sloping muddy deck and landed on my feet into some shrubs. Lucky day for me. No injuries but I was steamed at my belayer. Got a new one and got back on the horse.

Not so lucky a later time. I didn't actually deck but bounced backward and upside down along a dihedral. My belayer's failure was similar although that time I had fallen at the crux a couple times and even hung. She gave me slack and I fell @ 50' coming to a slow stop a few feet off the deck. I ended up with whiplash and a swollen neck.


rock_fencer


Apr 8, 2011, 6:13 PM
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Re: [milesenoell] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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i have had only one very significant close call. Climb looked like a finger crack, and was described as such in the guide book i had, from the base, and i only took finger sized cams. I usually rack up doubles through gold but this was a short climb and i took a minimal rack accordingly. This particular climb started with a campus up to a slightly overhanging horizontal traverse. Get past crux and am totally worked, crack is gone only to be replaced by very large think #3 C4 slopey horizontals. Try to downclimb and made it one step before i just pumped off completely despite my best efforts. Took about a 10 foot fall about 12 feet off the ground. Chalk bag grazed the ground on a swinging fall. Big shout-out goes to currupt4130 who kept my ass off the ground. Re racked with appropriately sized gear and finished the route.

Best of luck with the healing process! Learning when, how, and if to push the limits of gear, your climbing, and your head game is tricky.


spikeddem


Apr 8, 2011, 6:31 PM
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Re: [rock_fencer] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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I assume "pancakes" is a vote for "yes"
Tongue


milesenoell


Apr 8, 2011, 7:24 PM
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Re: [rock_fencer] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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rock_fencer wrote:
Learning when, how, and if to push the limits of gear, your climbing, and your head game is tricky.

The thing was, I wasn't pushing any limits. I just fucked up on a basic and routine task.


Partner climboard


Apr 9, 2011, 3:50 AM
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Re: [milesenoell] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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I was climbing at a little known/used crag back in the day. I got 15 feet off the deck and placed a cam in the only available placement- a crappy flared horizontal. I climbed one move higher, a hold broke, and I ripped the cam as I fell.

I landed on my belayer's shoulders and took him down like something out of a pro wrestling match. I came up laughing, he wasn't so lucky.


Paul_W


Apr 9, 2011, 8:10 AM
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Re: [milesenoell] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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I decked many many years ago from the bastille crack in eldo. then leading at my ability i climbed up and slapped a #7 hex in the flared crack. about 5 ft above my pro i pealed, and waved at the hex on the way by. the piece came out and i tumbled off the rocks at the base and ended up lying flat on my back on the road. i estimate 30 feet. was able to limp to the car and went to the emergency room where they said i had a bruised kidney. i pissed blood for three days and had a few bumps and bruises but otherwise ok. i was climbing again w/in 5 days - with a healthy respect for the bastille crack.


JAB


Apr 9, 2011, 8:43 AM
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Re: [milesenoell] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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I decked one of the first times I was leading trad. I climbed a crack that I had toproped easily before, but when leading it became clear that placing pro was tricky, especially for a noob like me. I messed around, trying to find a good placement, and finally managed to get a nut in. I could see that the placement was really sketchy and didn't dare to continue. I was also too pumped to downclimb, so I asked my belayer to carefully lower me. About 5 feet off the ground the nut suddenly popped. I took a pretty controlled landing, but almost rolled my head into a rock (no helmet).

I think what saved me from injury (in addition to the small distance fallen) was the fact that I knew the piece was bad, and I was at least a bit prepared to take a fall. Years later a friend of mine rapped through the rope ends, fell about the same distance, and broke her back. It took months for her to regain motion in her legs, and her ankles are probably permanently paralyzed.


(This post was edited by JAB on Apr 9, 2011, 8:45 AM)


desertdude420


Apr 9, 2011, 9:24 AM
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Re: [JAB] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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I decked once while belaying!! No joke. My partner was leading single pitch route. After placing one good piece, he was running it out to reach a "rest" which turned out to NOT be a rest at all. I realized that if he peeled at that point that he would surely hit the deck. Just then he started sketching... I was standing on a large boulder belaying and had formed a split second plan if he popped.
Just then, he popped! I quickly yarded in an armload of slack, locked him off and jumped (backwards) off of the boulder that I was standing on. Just as I hit the ground he hit the end of the rope. I had kept him from decking (by inches!) but I had taken quite a fall in the process!
If I had just locked him off, I would have watched him crater right in front of me!


notapplicable


Apr 9, 2011, 9:44 AM
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Re: [desertdude420] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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Sure have. The first time I decked I pulled gear and tweeked my back. I spent the next 3 days laying on the living room floor and wore a brace for a few weeks until things felt right again.

The second time I made a stupid mistake and broke my arm as a result.


potreroed


Apr 9, 2011, 10:18 AM
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I once fell about 30 feet, the gear below me held, but what with the rope stretch I landed standing on the ground almost completely unscathed. The problem was I wasn't wearing a harness and the rope tied around my waist came up and bruised some ribs.


moose_droppings


Apr 9, 2011, 11:03 AM
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Re: [milesenoell] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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I decked from 50ft up, but I was 4th classing down from a day of climbing, not really climbing at the time.

Spent 3 days in our local ICU with a left thumb that almost got ripped off (still have pins in it from that), 2 broken ribs, broke my right shoulder blade, had a concussion and a bruised lung.

The only long term problem is with the pins in my thumb. Where they are placed they can get bumped sending terrible waves of pain up my left arm. There are some hand jams I can't do. Also, with no insurance, the hospital bill hurt as much as my injuries but went away after almost 10 years.


socalclimber


Apr 9, 2011, 11:46 AM
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Re: [milesenoell] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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I fell off a deck once! Did a full 360 and landed face first in the grass.


A-Bowl


Apr 9, 2011, 12:24 PM
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Fell while onsight free soloing what turned out to be a kitty litter crack that was too hard to down climb. Luckily I landed on a ledge rather than falling the full 200 ft. I thought I was fine because I landed on my feet but when I clenched my jaw I felt the bone in my face move. My knee broke my occipital lobe in two places and my heals were badly bruised. Total fall was only about 20 ft and now i have titanium in my face and I don't onsight solo. Luckily doctors around lake tahoe were experienced at fixing my injuries since it is a very common skiing injury. Don't free solo kitter litter decomposed granite people, you cant fully trust your feet.


milesenoell


Apr 9, 2011, 8:14 PM
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Re: [gblauer] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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OK, so here's how I decked.

I got to the crag at the same time as a couple of guys I know, but had intended to climb solo. They offered me a belay to lead up rather than taking the walk up so I gladly accepted and lead the route, Right ski-track 5.10a, smoothly enough to elicit a comment from my friend about it looking like a start to a nice low-gravity day. It's a climb I have done plenty of times and while it's tricky enough to stay interesting, it was hardly pushing any limits.

After I topped out I rigged it for TR solo and ran another lap. Then I ran a third lap, placing gear in a mock-lead. I had placed five pieces of pro and was moving well but for some reason I decided to lean back and take an uncharacteristic rest with a little over a body length of rock between me and the top.

As I leaned back and started to fall away from the rock I realized that my ascender wasn't catching and grabbed for the rope, but I was already moving much too fast to get a proper grip. As the rope was burning through my hands I had a shadow of a thought that you just aren't supposed to grab the rope like this, so I suppose I may not have committed properly, although I wouldn't really expect it to have changed the outcome.

My perception was very narrow, focused on trying to hold onto the rope in my hands, and a shocked disbelief that the system had failed and somehow thinking that it still might. The climb is low angle so the tension on the rope kept me in contact with the rock face, and fortunately the rocks I was sliding over were basically smooth so I didn't get scraped and banged much. When I hit the ground I came down with my left side to the rock but straight up and down with my feet under me. The ground was higher on the left than the right but basically flat for each foot, and so the landing was otherwise nice and square, but just as I reached the bottom a cam hanging off the left side of my harness wedged in a crack. I had been so focused on the rope in my hands I hadn't really prepared for impact but as I started to bend my legs the cam caught and brought my left side into the rock face hard. My good friend was just a few steps away and immediately came to my aid.

My TR solo setup consists of a Petzl Ascension clipped through the top hole of the device with an HMS style locker to my belay loop. I don't use a second device or back-up knots.

The reason I fell was because I did not engage the cam on my ascender.

I don't know why it happened. When I rig normally I put the ascender on the rope and engage the cam to hold it there with my right hand, before using the same hand to clip and lock the biner. I had expected this way of doing things to offer some protection against this kind of a lapse, but clearly I was not taking this as seriously as I should.

In retrospect I believe that I should implement an "on belay, belay on" when climbing solo. I am regrettably lax about this basic check with friends. Often I say "climbing" when I'm already starting up the rock, and all mention of belay has been lost.

I expect others will suggest a second device or back-up knots, but I still stubbornly believe in my system. As far as I know my rigging is not standard or approved, but when I heal up I'll be back doing it much the way I used to, with the noteworthy addition of an internal "on belay, belay on" while I re-check the system.

In the meantime I've got a fractured metacarpal and possible fractured cuboid in my left foot, a sprained left ankle, some nasty rope burns, and a bit of torquing throughout the spine.

I wasn't wearing my helmet, and could have very easily hit my head on rocks if I'd gone backwards even a little bit.


gblauer
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Apr 9, 2011, 8:19 PM
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Re: [milesenoell] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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Hey, we are glad you are ok.


potreroed


Apr 9, 2011, 9:14 PM
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Re: [milesenoell] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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And that's exactly why those of us who rope-solo use back-up knots.


(This post was edited by potreroed on Apr 10, 2011, 8:04 AM)


milesenoell


Apr 9, 2011, 9:29 PM
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Re: [gblauer] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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gblauer wrote:
Hey, we are glad you are ok.

And for that I am very appreciative.


notapplicable


Apr 9, 2011, 9:41 PM
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Re: [milesenoell] Have you ever decked? [In reply to]
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That is terrifying. Damn sure glad you are still here to do the write up on this.

As far as the solo TR rig goes, I use a Petzl Basic Ascender in the same fashion. Ultimately it is a matter of personal preference but I do not use a backup with the system and have never seen anything to make me think it needs one. At least not more so than many other climbing activities that are not routinely backedup.


milesenoell


Apr 9, 2011, 9:47 PM
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notapplicable wrote:
That is terrifying. Damn sure glad you are still here to do the write up on this.

As far as the solo TR rig goes, I use a Petzl Basic Ascender in the same fashion. Ultimately it is a matter of personal preference but I do not use a backup with the system and have never seen anything to make me think it needs one. At least not more so than many other climbing activities that are not routinely backedup.

While I may follow potreroed's advice and start using back-up knots my focus has been on the first line of protection rather than adding redundancy. It feels like a weak position to be coming from, but I still believe that my system is sound and that I simply made an unforgivable error. Any basic check before leaving the ground should catch my mistake, I had simply become so complacent that I had none in place.


MS1


Apr 9, 2011, 9:59 PM
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milesenoell wrote:
So, I recently decked and spent a while thinking "oh my god I could have just died" which is certainly true, but now I'm hoping to get some perspective. How many of you folks out there have decked for one reason or another, and what was that reason? How bad was it?

I decked last year. I fell about 30 feet off a sport route due to a belayer error. I knew the belayer was new and a bit nervous, but I had spent a full day training her and she seemed "good enough" to me. I have since reevaluated my standards for what is "good enough."

I came out of it with just bruises and rope burn. I count myself very lucky to have landed on soft earth between the boulders at the base of the route. It took me a long time to get my lead head back after that (in truth, I still sometimes sketch out on doable terrain even now), but I now enjoy leading again provided I'm with a belayer I feel I can trust fully.

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